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Teen Sexting vs. Child Pornography

It’s Not The Same Thing

In addition to providing accurate and detailed resources to our Denver-area community, we provide aggressive legal representation to individuals (including minors) who have been charged with crimes involving teen sexting and child pornography.

Below, you’ll find important definitions and distinctions… and remember, if you or a family member is facing criminal charges, Wolf law can help.

How Does Colorado Define Teen Sexting?

This is an important definition, particularly for parents who want to educate their teens about dangerous online behavior.

Sexting (by itself) involves the transmission of explicit images, videos, or messages by text or email—most often via mobile phone. These can be nude or semi-nude images or just explicit texts. 

There is no criminal charge for “sexting” in Colorado. Moreover, it’s not a crime for consenting adults (i.e., persons age 18 or older) to engage in sexting.

Colorado’s teen sexting law details three offenses that are specific to minors (i.e., persons less than 18 years old): exchanging, possession, and posting.

Minors who exchange photos consensually (i.e., both minors believed the other consented to the exchange) can be charged with a civil infraction in Colorado, which may involve educational programs and/or a fine.

A minor found in possession of explicit content involving another minor without consent is a petty offense and might include a fine and/or up to six months in jail.

It should be noted that finding more explicit content and/or content involving more than one other minor can increase the severity of this charge.

Posting occurs when a minor knowingly distributes, displays, or publishes the image of another minor without permission. Posting charges can also involve a teen who distributes, displays, or sends content of himself or herself to a recipient who didn’t request it.

Posting is a Class 2 misdemeanor and punishable by up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of $1,000. Penalties for posting increase depending on the circumstances; for example, if posting was intended to threaten or intimidate the other party.

In nearly all cases, repeat offenders are judged more severely than first-time offenders.

Criminal sexting charges in Colorado are serious business—even for teens. CLICK HERE for even more detail on Colorado’s teen sexting law, including distinctions on age and circumstances that increase penalties.

How Does Colorado Define Child Pornography?

Child pornography laws specifically prohibit the production, promotion, and possession of all explicit content involving or depicting children under the age of 18.

To be clear, child pornography is not the same as teen sexting; however, when sexting involves a minor, it violates state and federal child pornography laws.

In Colorado, possessing child pornography is charged as sexual exploitation of a child (i.e. a sex crime). Penalties for this charge include a two- to 16-year indeterminate sentence.

In cases like this, the judge picks a number from two to 16 years and then sentences the individual to up to life in prison and the parole decides if or when an individual is released after the initial term is served. Defendants are also subject to lifetime supervision and sex offender registration is required.

Sexual exploitation of a child also includes sending unsolicited nude or sexual images to a minor or soliciting a minor to send sexually explicit material.

Penalties depend on the offense and the ages of the individuals involved. Aggravating factors include things like previous criminal history, the use of force or violence, and where the act took place.

Child pornography charges in Colorado should be taken very seriously. If you’re facing charges, you need Wolf Law. Call 720-479-8574 for a free initial consultation or contact our Denver office online.

The Bottom Line…

Minors shouldn’t engage in sexting to avoid complex and often unforeseen consequences. If you’re an adult and you’re not sure who you’re texting with, don’t send explicit content to that person.

Colorado’s teen sexting law was designed to protect minors from the life-long consequences that typically accompany a child pornography charge—teen sexting laws are not intended to protect adults.

Adults who solicit or engage in sexting with a minor may find that their actions result in severe consequences for which they will need experienced legal representation.

The Denver criminal defense lawyers at Wolf Law have handled a broad range of sex crime cases, and we’re here to protect your rights.

If you or a loved one is facing teen sexting or child pornography charges, please call us today at 720-479-8574 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.